Although I once called Community and Parents for Public Schools (CPPS), the organization Scott Bailey formerly headed, "lapdogs for school choice*," Bailey is clearly the better of the two candidates running for the Zone 5 school board position. And never mind the useless endorsements given his opponent by the Oregonian and Willamette Week.
I still don't know exactly where Bailey stands on choice and the district transfer policy. Nevertheless he has certainly abandoned the Vicki Phillips-can-do-no-wrong stance he seemed to espouse when I first encountered him at one of Phillips' infamous "community conversations" at Sellwood Middle School a few years back.
A case in point is Bailey's criticism of Phillips' much-ballyhooed K-8 reconfigurations. He calls the K-8 reconfiguration "poorly planned, done too quickly, and ... poorly executed." He's right. He's also correct in pointing out the enrollment imbalances K-8's create, as well as the obvious inequities they promote in poorer sections of the district.
Bailey is also upfront about the underfunding of schools in Oregon and what we can do about it. He writes,
"Part of the problem is we’re a low tax state, particularly for businesses."
He then calls for "...raising the corporate minimum tax, or ... increasing the corporate tax rate." He also proposes an increase in the "general level of personal taxes" and getting rid of the "kicker".
Bailey's opponent is Portland Business Alliance chief operating officer, Pam Knowles. The contrast between the two on school funding is glaring.
Knowles says she is for "adequate and stable school funding" but proposes little of substance to achieve that goal. Her one concrete proposal is to adjust "the corporate minimum tax, while protecting and promoting the success of our small businesses."
"Adjust," not raise. Spoken like a true business lobbyist.
More troubling though is Knowles' inclination to define a successful education as the ability to get a job:
"We all have the common goal of wanting a high quality education for our children so they can be productive workers and citizens. ...
"At the Portland Business Alliance I am working with PPS and Worksystems, Inc. to connect high school students with job exploration opportunities through a new program called BizConnect. I can leverage these and other relationships to increase opportunities for PPS students."
Innocent language, perhaps, but to me, Knowles emphasis on bringing businesses into the schools as partners for "job preparation" betrays a narrow vision of what a quality education is all about.
Scott Bailey is the clear choice in this election for the Zone 5 school board position.
*(Here's a pertinent newsletter from CPPS regarding school choice.)